the heart, the troubles and the healing

When we talk about using plants to support the heart we mean 2 different things. Of course, there is the involuntary muscle which is vitally important and pretty awesome. I love my circulatory system! But that is not what I mean right now….I’m referring to the heart which loves and loses, which gives and takes away and which does. not. forget.

“We’re never through with our lives, I’ve begun to realize, any part of them.”-Dorothy Day

Sometimes emotional pain has had a place in our heart for so long that if we-amazingly-have the chance to move it out, to kick and push and punch it out, the resulting hole, the empty space is so shocking that we let some of the pain back in to fill it up. Nature abhors a vauum. Bare soil is in agony. We are not prepared to be so naked. You must be ready, but you can’t be ready. I believe it helps to have some joy, some belief, some community or connection ready to fill our hearts, to take the place of the pain we’ve carried around.

“it is quite difficult to get the psychological or cognitive sewage out even when the real sewage is gone.”-Carol Nemeroff

Plants can help. Hawthorne  does wonders for me-flower, berry and leaf in elixir, tincture, infusion. Rose thorn tincture and flower elixir soothe my rages. Scullcap and Sage keep me grounded and help me shovel baggage out of my heart.

But not forever. Like the tide, life flows back in and we have to decide whether to let it, whether to build more walls or to smash them, to expand our capacity to love ourselves and others. Nothing is a guarantee.  It is all an experiment. It changes by the moment.

The way our culture works doesn’t really help. We aren’t supposed to love others madly, ridiculously, in spite of reason. We are supposed to make lots of money and clean the house and work out or some crap like that. Hmm. How’s that workin’ out for y’all so far?

The heart renews itself, the capacity is unknowable, butI believe it is infinite. The capacity for pain and self-destruction is infinite too of course. Damn.

You have to shape it yourself.

“I believe god blesses those that hustle.”-Tupac Shakur

cheesy stock -esque nature photos!

lavender fiends unite!

although i thought of lavender as being “too mainstream” for far too long i have sure changed my tune. yes, every crappy shower gel shop  at the mall, battery-powered aromatherapy diffuser and glade plug-in refill features fake made-in-china lavender scent. but let’s not let that crap ruin it for the rest of us. real lavender is nothing like that stuff, and it is very good.


lavender, (lavandula  angustifolia and allied species), is in the mint family and thrives in sandy light soil in full sun, building up delightful and soothing volatile oils. originally from the mediteranean area it is one of the few plants i grow that does  not like to be very wet.  many people are familiar with the essential oil of lavender, and sure it’s nice but tricky to make and you need a lot of plant material to get a little of the highly concentrated oil.

i make a tincture of fresh flowering tops which is just super, so very soothing. to me, it is the definition of “balm”, a cooling energy mover and nervine . i love to use it as a digestive bitter-especially post-eating. the tincture moves gas and stuck digestion. it is also nice used as an elixir or dried in tea blends.  the elixir is very fun in a bit of seltzer before bed.

the tincture helps relieve tension, headaches due to tension and spasms, nervousness and anxiety. herbalist david winston gives the indication “stagnant depression” which i see often especially in winter.


additionally lavender has properties which whack bacteria,  support teeth and gums and treat mild burns. it has become one of my top wouldn’t-want-to-be-without herbs with a truly broad spectrum of application which i turn to over and over!